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BMW 5-Series Sedans



  • dabimmerdabimmer Posts: 165
    I am considering getting 255-40-17 tires on rear of my 530iA (2001) on standard 8 " rim.
    The fronts are 235-45-17's. Would I benefit anything from this in handling or is it not worth the effort. Is there any upside to this? Any downside? How would brakes be affected?
  • Riez,

    Not sure I understand your criticism of employees18's opinion that the E60 blows the E39 away. Your remarks -- "03 525 for an 04 530" and now you love the 530i. What is surprising about that? -- seem to have glossed over the fact that he says he "Traded 03 530 for 04 530." Seems like a pretty fair comparison to me. Not to mention the fact that at least half of his comments were devoted to the design, not the engine performance.

    I haven't noticed any space-intruding hinges on my E60, but I'll keep an eye out for them. From the sounds of it, they apparently lead to famine, disease and the return of the leg-warmer.

    I am ...
    the ATOMICPunk.
  • tom17tom17 Posts: 134
    Thanks for the reply about the transmission.

    Was 2003 the only year when the "Steptronic" was an optional upgrade to the normal automatic on the 540? I see that for 04, the Steptronic is standard.

    How much does the Sport mode change the shift profile?

    I have had the Infiniti G35 as a loaner car many times (even yesterday) and the one nice feature of that car is the engine will rev virtually all the way to redline at 1/2 throttle. Allows the car to really scoot. Unfortunately for Infiniti, I have a problem with the ride harshness (even the base suspension) and the fact the drivers seat is uncomfortable. Also I am looking for a larger car than the G35.

    Thanks for the help !!!
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    BMW defined STEPTRONIC to mean "BMW's system of manual shift control for an automatic transmission; includes selectable Sport Mode". This is from the BMW Fast Facts Book 2000/2001 issue, in the section on the 5 Series.

    In MY2001 the only way to get a STEPTRONIC in a 540i was to order the Sport Pkg. This Sport Pkg automatic could be had with both 540i sedan and touring (Sport Wagon). The Sport Pkg also gave you a "high-stall speed torque converter" and "Performance final drive ratio" (3.15:1).

    According to the detailed full-color 100+ page BMW
    5 Series brochures, MYs 2002 & 2003 worked the same way. Only way to get STEPTRONIC in 540i was with the Sport Pkg.

    BUT, the STEPTRONIC was optional on the 525i and 530i and not tied to their Sport Pkgs. In the 540i, STEPTRONIC was tied to the Sport Pkg.

    Here is what the MY2003 brochure says about the 540i Sport Package: "... performance rear axle and torque converter; five-speed STEPTRONIC transmission. ... BMW's five-speed STEPTRONIC transmission offers hands-on manual shifting without a clutch or the convenience of fully automatic shifting." The brochure shows that the non-STEPTRONIC transmission came in all E39 non-Sport 540is.

    Simple reason for the 540i STEPTRONIC being only in Sport Pkg: tied to how EPA does its tests and the resulting gas guzzler tax on the 540i automatic Sports. From MY 2003 Brochure:

    540i non-Steptronic: 18(city)/24(highway) mpg
    540i STEPTRONIC: 15(city)/21(highway) mpg
    540i6 manual: 15(city)/23(highway) mpg
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    “Was 2003 the only year when the "Steptronic" was an optional upgrade to the normal automatic on the 540?”

    As mentioned in riez’ punctilious post, the Step was also available for the 540 in other years but only with Sport Package, as it was for 03.

    “How much does the Sport mode change the shift profile?”

    Considerably in my opinion. I can’t quantify it, only give empirical observations. There is an electronic device that senses “driving” habits... probably just throttling habits. The great thing is that it is really enjoyable depending on one’s appreciation of the Steptronic. When you are driving in a spirited manner in Manual or Auto mode, it registers on the computer and will apply the data to the Sport mode, raising or lowering the shift points. I find myself using Sport mode quite often. After aggressive shifting in Manual mode, the Sport mode kicks right in and emulates it.

    But if you really want control over engine rpm, the Manual mode is the best part of the Steptronic. It does everything a conventional manual does. Of course the big difference is that you can’t shift as fast as you can with a clutch.

    At first, I was turned off by the Steptronic concept. I thought it was just another way for BMW to extort money. However, my opinion has changed 180 degrees. Given the different levels of sport driving, and considering most people’s need for automatic, the Steptronic really offers a LOT. Plus, BMW trannys are the best.

    I doubt however that there are many who appreciate the Step. Furthermore I believe there are many who aren’t even aware of the Steptronic options. They just buy the auto and default to PNDR. One of my colleagues has a 530 identical to mine. He uses only auto mode and when I asked him why he said “I just don’t know how to use it and I guess I’m afraid I’ll break it.” A relative of mine has a 330 with Step. When I asked him why he doesn’t use the Step options he said “I just can’t be bothered.” Curious how he also has a sports car with manual. I usually invoke the words of parents when kids don’t eat certain foods... “You don’t know what you’re missing.”
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Besides the beefier torque converter, the single most important thing about the Sport Pkg is the 3.15:1 final drive. Really multiplies the torque to the pavement. That is why the E39 M5 used the same 3.15:1 final drive.

    So regardless of whether you use the STEPTRONIC feature or leave it in full auto (which includes a Sport setting), there is more pickup in any gear, including from standing start.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    According to employees18's first post (contrary to his second) about his swapping an E39 for an E60, he informed us that he swapped a 525i for a 530i. That being the case, there is no comparison between the two; the 530i will blow the 525i away, period. I have heard plenty of folks say that they cannot tell the difference, sorry, not buying, there is a very stubstantial difference.

    The BMWs that I have a fair amount of seat time in (ordered slowest to fastest, all with 5-Speed manual transmissions) a 2001 325i, 1999 528i (E46), 1999 328i, and a 2002 530i. The 325i was WAY slower than the 528i, which was noticeably but not horribly slower than the 328i, which in turn was noticeably slower than the 530i. Of the four cars, only the 328i and the 530i were strong enough for my tastes. The 325i was, I'm sorry to say, unacceptable, and the 528i was almost there.

    Best Regards,
  • bmwmrcbmwmrc Posts: 66
    with all due respect, I don't think you know what you're talking about with regard to the '03 E39 525i. I have the automatic, premium and SP, and the car FLIES! This is my second 5 series and I could not justify another $3,800 for 41 HP! My car goes 0-60 in less than 8 seconds, handles beautifully (as well as any other E39) and I paid $37K for a brand spanking new one in Southern California! If I had to pay $45k, yes, you are right it's not worth it. This purchase however, is!

    So, I'm absolutely THRILLED with my decision and don't miss the extra HP at all.

    Now, as far as the E60 goes, I DON'T like the new design on the outside and the inside looks and feels cheap and austere. And yes, I test drove the car. In the final analysis, I am very happy I bought my '03 525i over the new Bangle bungle.

    P.S. In case some of you didn't know, Bangle has left BMW. Hmmmm, wonder why? Do you think it's because many former BMW owners think the new evolutionary design is a step in the WRONG direction? Time will tell with the 5. The 7 however, is taking a bath on resale as well as many disatisfied customers, who have turned them back in and have bought other luxury brands.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    I agree that an automatic transmission equipped 525i, with PP and SP is a fine automobile, it is clear however that you and I have very different definitions of what the statement, "the car FLIES", means. In my experience the 2.5 liter engine is not one with enough power to make an automatic equipped anything "FLY". For that matter, I wouldn't even claim that my manual transmission equipped 530i "FLIES". It's quick to be sure, nearly 2 seconds to 60 quicker than a 525iA, and it is fast enough for my purposes, but it doesn't "FLY".

    As for a 525iA being able to get to 60 in less than 8 seconds, hmmm, well maybe if it's -20 degrees outside with the wind to your back.

    Best Regards,
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    bmwmrc.... Looks like shipo and I are on the same page. NO 323i/325i or 525i automatic "flies".

    My wife's former '00 323ia (2.5L I6) was a decent car but had little accelerative performance. Not quite a dog, but nothing to write home about. And that car is lighter than your 525i. She had PP but not SP. Fortunately for you, your's has the critical Sport Pkg, so at least your's handles much better than her's.

    You might compare your 525ia's performance to less expensive cars like the former Acura TL Type S or new Acura TL, Infiniti G35, or Lexus IS300.

    Or take one serious drive in a 530i Sport.

    Or you should've taken a serious ride in my former '98 540i6. Now she flew!

    Here are BMW's (conservative) 0-60 mph time estimates for MY2003 E39:

    525ia= 8.3 secs
    525i5= 7.8
    530ia= 7.0
    530i5= 6.8
    540ia= 6.2
    540ia Sport= 6.1
    540i6= 6.0

    8.3 seconds is mediocre at best and very poor in relation to the 5 Series' competitors.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    Yup, I'll bet Riez's former 540i6 did in fact "FLY". ;-)

    Best Regards,
  • Thank you for the history of your BMW's and related observations on their power. I'm not sure why I have the pleasure of receiving this information, but I thank you nonetheless!

    None of that affects my statement -- and employee18's post of record -- that comparing engine performance between the E39 530i and the E60 530i is "fair."

    I am...
    the ATOMICPunk!
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    atomicpunk... I thought employees18 was comparing his former E39 525i to his new E60 530i. I, like shipo, fail to see the comparison. I agree with you, though, that it is fair to compare an E39 530i to an E60 530i.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Furthermore “flying” is relative to the driver’s expectation. 8.3 to 7.0 is not a big difference. The average driver probably can’t even tell the difference. Also, I wouldn't be surprised if BMW tweaked the numbers to help justify the cost difference between the 525 and 530.

    525 with NOTHING is a good car.

    BTW, if you ever run into a trooper doing a confident 120 in a 525 try telling him that it doesn’t fly.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    employees18... Please help us understand your situation.

    What was your MY2003 E39 BMW 5 Series? A 525i or a 530i? What was its MSRP? What options did it have? How many miles did you drive it? How many months did you own it?

    Please do same for your E60 530i. MSRP? Options?
  • habitat1habitat1 Posts: 4,282
    Having driven virtually all of the E39 5-series from the 525i 5-speed to the M5, IMO, the biggest and easiest to economically justify difference was between the 525i 5-speed and 530i 5-speed. I had the cost difference pegged at about $3,500, comparably equiped. Alas, I did not buy an E39 and am not interested in the E60 at its inflated price and new design.

    I believe 0-60 times are not the best measure of acceleration performance. Nor are 1/4 mile times. I have found 0-100 mph times to have the most correlation to my butt meter and how I would generally feel about relative performance. Not that I actually do 0-100 mph runs. It's just that, as desingman suggests, 0-60 times of 4.8 vs. 6.0 vs. 7.0 vs. 8.3 might not seem like a big difference, but 0-100 times that range from 11.5 to 23 seconds are. And if your humming along the highway and need to pass, the difference between a 530i and 525i (0-100 times of approximately 17.5 vs. 23.5 seconds is quite significant, in my opinion. Subtracting off the 0-60 times, the 530i does 60-100 in about 10.5 seconds, whereas the 525i takes at least 15. In the case of my Maxima and S2000, the S2000 is only rated at about 1.2 seconds quicker to 60 than the Maxima, but a full 5-6 seconds quicker to 100.

    By the way, the new E320 CDI diesel I am on the wait list for does 0-60 in 7.5 and has a top speed of 151. It is quite adequate for my needs, but I don't think it "flies". Nor does the Honda Pilot we are considering with a 0-60 time of 7.8. The 525i sport is indeed one of the best handling sedans on the planet and if it gets you to speed adequately for your needs, that should be more than satisfactory.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    To better understand why Riez and I believe that "Employees18" is incorrectly attempting to compare apples (E39 525i) and oranges (E60 530i) consider the following post titled "traded 03 5 series for 04" (message number 8269, dated 25-Jan-2004):

    "Saturday afternoon at my local bmw dealer, Keeler bmw, trading in my 03 525 for an 04 530 was quite the experience. Over the last several years I have become quite the novice on trading recent models years for newer cars. I must say the o3 [sic] was not a bad deal in trading towards the 04 but i must say i think the new 5's are incredible. I think any true bmw fan must drive the new 5 and they will agree this car rocks! it is innovative, stylist and dead on class leading. Bangle rocks!"

    That was his first regarding the upgrade, and IMHO, one cannot compare the two cars; and that was what Riez was most likely objecting to. Then on 30-Jan-2004 "Employees18" posted again, changing his story in the process. Consider this post, message number 8283, titled "Traded 03 530 for 04 530", wherein he said:

    "I really don't understand why the new 5 is getting such poor reviews for the redesign. I drove my 03 into the dealer and parked it next to an 04 and it certainly made my car look old hat. I know style is subjective, but personally I like the new style...its bold, edgy and loaded with upscale good looks, oh and for anyone who still is not quite a believer, go drive the it! It blew me away, much improved over the 03. My two cents"

    Sorry guys, I'm not buying. In fact, at this point, I find myself actually wondering if he has a BMW at all.

    Best Regards,
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    Yeah, I too questioned whether he is telling the truth. In any event it is clear to me that he is making a vague and general comparison of E60 vs. E39 PLATFORMS. He is not comparing E39 525 to E60 530 with regard to performance. He quite clearly thinks E60 STYLING is better than E39. But in no way do I see apples-to-oranges. And even if there is, who cares? Riez is little too pedantic about comparisons.
  • designmandesignman Posts: 2,129
    habitat1... Excellent post.

    In response I will make the point that the average driver would not think to take note of the performance gauges that you mentioned, and even if he did, he would rationalize that he does not NEED overly abundant passing power in the 60-100 range as this is a place he rarely goes. 60-85 maybe.

    I consider myself a "spirited" driver, so spirited that I plan on tracking my Boxster S, not to compete, but to experience the car’s full talent, and perhaps more importantly to temper my urges on the road. That said, I would like to point out that my Outback does something like 0-60 in 11 sec and is totally bereft in the in the passing category. However, this does not make me drive it less aggressively. So as I also "fly" with the Outback, I find it quite easy to understand another person "flying" with a 525 and justifying a savings of $3500.

    My problem with some of these arguments is how some aficionados establish performance hierarchies, assign too much significance to them, and fail to recognize the buying criteria of others. For instance, not only are these stick/sport package rants that we keep hearing over and over a bit sanctimonious, they tend to be critical of people who have very good reasons not to purchase these options.
  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    "they tend to be critical of people who have very good reasons not to purchase these options."

    Well sometimes maybe. :)
  • Are brakes and rotor replacements provided under the BMW maintenance ageement?

  • kdshapirokdshapiro Posts: 5,751
    The short answer is yes.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    designman... Yes, I'm guilty. Too pedantic about comparisons. But also a stickler for facts and data.

    But there is a huge difference between an E39 525i and an E39 530i. Same for E60 platform. If you don't believe it, just drive one for yourself.

    Didn't we have a previous discussion about comparisons? Thinking someone was comparing their Porsche Boxster to a BMW sedan. :)
  • drslodrslo Posts: 1
    It's been a while (1999) since I was last in a BMW 318. Currently in a Lexus IS300 coming off lease in September. I am looking to get a 540i but am a bit concerned about some of the comments on the board about the 2004's (both 5 series and 7 series).

    I'm interested in any constructive feedback that any of you have between getting a used 540 vs. the new model.
  • bmwmrcbmwmrc Posts: 66
    Thanks for the support. And your arguments are exactly mine. Whether it's 8 seconds or 8.3 seconds or 6.9 seconds (supposedly the E39 530i) it's all relative and rather a small and insignificant rate of speed. I don't equate performance and whether or not a car "flies" by standstill speed. I live in Southern California where we have perpetual rush hour.

    In the window times when I can actually drive my car fast, my 525i gets up to 90 and above VERY QUICKLY on the freeway. And yes, Shipo and Riez, I've driven a 530i and a 540i. The only noticeable difference came from the 540i and NOT the 530i. Sure the 530i accelerates a LITTLE better from a standstill, but once both cars get going, the difference is very minor. And with the computer chip holding down the overall speed of the car, both cars can only go around 128 mph anyway.

    IMO, the 540i is in a different class. But who needs all of that power driving around town and on the freeway? I don't. Would I want the 540i? Not really. Can I afford the 540i? Yes. But I don't need all of that muscle. In fact my "slow" 525i just got me a speeding ticket on a local twisting road. I was allegedly doing 62 in a 35 mph. Sorry Shipo and Riez, but the car freakin' flew! And oh by the way, this is my second 5 series and before that I "flew" in a Saab Turbo. So, it IS relative to what kind of driving one wants to do. I'm more concerned about highway "flying", muscle and speed and less concerned at beating the guy next to me at a red light.

    Finally, if I thought the 41 hp could justify the extra $3,500 I would have bought it. And one other thing Riez: I did test drive many of the cars you listed in your response to me. They might have beaten my 525i by a second or more but they couldn't hold a candle to the handling of my car nor the fit and finish. I rather prefer my "ultimate driving machine" thank you very much.
  • riezriez Posts: 2,361
    Not sure I agree that all is relative. Sure, in one sense, but if you go down that road too far, then why drive the BMW in the first place when there are a ton of cars, relatively speaking, that are nearly as good, many for a lot less money?

    For me the issue is there are cars, good cars, and great cars. Why settle for a car or a good car if there is a great car?

    Nothing wrong with the 525i. I think a 525i manual with Sport Pkg is an excellent car. Though it is not as good a car as the 530i, which is one of the best sedans in the world.

    I love the 540i6. But I will acknowledge that for the money a low option 530i manual Sport Pkg is a better bargain. Don't forget that the V8 is heavier. And thinking that in the E39 the 540i6 used recirculating ball steering. So the E39 530i was a slightly more nimble car. Guess that was one reason CR rated it the best overall car they had ever tested.
  • shiposhipo Posts: 9,152
    bmwmrc, on the whole, I agree with much of what you have been saying, however, there are a few things I just cannot agree with.

    1) "I've driven a 530i and a 540i. The only noticeable difference came from the 540i and NOT the 530i. Sure the 530i accelerates a LITTLE better from a standstill, but once both cars get going, the difference is very minor."

    Sorry, the difference is quite a bit more than a "LITTLE better". If that's all your butt dyno is capable of registering, I might humbly suggest that you it re-calibrated. ;-)

    2) "And with the computer chip holding down the overall speed of the car, both cars can only go around 128 mph anyway."

    Other than you, I haven't heard anyone mentioning the top speed during this discussion. I have in fact had the pleasure of driving my 530i at the upper limit (I did ED a couple of years back) in Germany, and based upon my experience with the 325i that I drove, the acceleration up to the limit, and it's ability to sustain that speed going up hill is quite significant.

    3) Regarding the 41 horsepower (and 39 lb-ft torque) advantage of the 3.0 liter mill, the impression that I get from you that it's "ONLY" 41 horsepower. Hmmm, well, in my book that is a little more than a 22% increase in power. Not too shabby.

    In the end, all of the E39 5-Series cars are quite wonderful, however, from where I sit, the 525i is simply not as drivable as the 530i, regardless of whether I'm in NYC rush hour traffic or burning up a hilly/twisty two lane up here in New Hampshire.

    Best Regards,
  • twoof1twoof1 Posts: 308
    I know you're a stickler for facts that is why I found your comment disturbing:

    "You might compare your 525ia's performance to less expensive cars like the former Acura TL Type S or new Acura TL, Infiniti G35, or Lexus IS300."

    You may be interested in the fact the the Infiniti G35 Automatic turns 0-60 in 6.2-6.5 sec. The G35 Stick is 5.9 0-60, 14.4 0-100, 1/4 mile in 14.2, 70-0 153ft. (Jan. '03 Car & Driver) The fact is that the G35 sport will outperform any 525 or 530 auto or stick. All that for under $35,000.00

    I'm not Bimmer bashing (as a former member of the clan '00 Z3 & '01 325sp). It's just that your post was misleading and inaccurate.
  • sdg380sdg380 Posts: 109
    Seems like Employees18 may indeed be a ringer, but he/she has gotten an interesting discussion started.

    I guess I'd only add that the fact the BMW has sold a fairly wide range of E39's (and presumably E60) models just goes to show "different strokes" is simply where it's at.

    To me, one of the conundrums of cars like the 5 is how much money do you blow on the engine, when you're getting (essentially) the exact same chassis for either a lot more or a lot less than others. Value-wise, it's hard to fault the 525 buyer, particularly if modestly optioned, who gets the same chassis, and handling dynamics the equal of or even better than the 540/545, for what, $12k-$15k less? On balance, in a car the size of a 5 (approx. 3,500+lbs.), I guess my own definition of "flies" mandates a V-8 (or a least a honking 6). But as pointed out, aside from cost, that V-8 car is heavier (particlarly in the front, note weight distribution), and in the E39 had less-preferred recirc. ball.

    I personally went the "cut the baby in half" route, E39 530 stick, saved $$ be skipping the SP, and also miss out on the fun of changing wheels twice a year so I can drive here in Chicago in the winter. As far as the extra $3500 v. a 525, well my old E34 had 189hp, so I wasn't going to get another 5 without some extra ponies, but I would point out that in the grand scheme of hot rodding, a 22% increase in power (v. a 525) for $3500 in not prohibitive. "Balanced", in a number of senses, is how a I like to think of this 5 (but a colleague has a similarly equipped E39 525 stick, likes it just fine, and has almost an an add'l $4k sitting in the bank--appreciating, unlike a car.)

    My point: lots of ways to skin this cat, a stripper 525 offers great value, but a V-8 puts some real motor under the hood (but there's no free lunch.) I'm even thinking 545 next time around now that they've juiced it to 325hp, lightened the car, and put 6-speed trannies across the board. But like others, I'm a little cool on the E60 styling, so I'll continue to drive "the best car Consumer Reports ever tested" (although I understand that it recently got nudged out by the new Acura TL--what do those toaster-testers know?!)
  • ny540i6ny540i6 Posts: 518
    I admit it... I sometimes wonder if I should have gotten a 530 six speed, saved a bunch of bucks, and gotten the slightly more compliant 17 inch wheel/tire combo in the bargain. I would also be doing the planet a favor, with the greater fuel efficiency of the six. I am not good enough to really tell you that the recirc ball steering is crap compared to the rack in the 530, and the front/rear tire stagger on the 540 inhibit you truly comparing the balance of the two. I know that running the tach up is a blast in my car. I still wonder though...
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